UK HealthCare hospital to open ED for patients in mental health crisis

Lexingnton-based UK HealthCare will open a behavioral health emergency department July 31 at Eastern State Hospital, leaders told the Lexington Herald-Leader in a June 10 report. 

The Emergency Psychiatric Assessment Treatment and Healing, or EmPATH unit, will have capacity for 12 patients, where they can stay for up to 23 hours. Patients who stay for that time will be referred for additional treatment. 

The unit is meant to foster a more welcoming and calming environment for patients in crisis, featuring an open concept that uses recliners instead of hospital beds. The unit will provide care to adult patients with a range of mental health needs, including suicidal ideation and substance use disorders. UK HealthCare will fully own and operate the unit at Eastern State, a 239-bed psychiatric hospital owned by the state and managed by UK HealthCare. 

The project comes as demand for behavioral health services grows and is meant to alleviate strain on traditional hospital emergency rooms, health system officials said. 

"The idea is [patients in need of emergency psychiatric care] won't go to any other emergency department, they'll come directly to us and then we can help support them immediately," Lindsey Jasinski, PhD, chief administrative officer at Eastern State Hospital, told the news outlet. "It creates capacity for us as an entire system to not only treat our behavioral health patients but treat anyone else who needs us."

The Joint Commission recognizes the EmPATH model as a national best practice. There are over 30 units in the U.S. that use this framework.  

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